Panel OKs bill to extend unemployment benefits

Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D)
Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - An Alabama Senate committee has approved a bill that would extend unemployment benefits to state workers for an additional 20 weeks.

The Senate Finance and Taxation-Education Committee approved the bill that would use federal stimulus money to continue to pay benefits to unemployed workers after the initial 59-weeks of unemployment insurance has expired.

The sponsor of the bill, Democratic Sen. Rodger Smitherman of Birmingham, said the bill allows the state to accept about $65 million in federal money to extend the benefits.

The bill was part of Gov. Bob Riley's call for a special session this week.

Smitherman said extending the benefits will help unemployed Alabama residents who are still struggling to find a new job in the recession.

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